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160453_4179249_updates.jpgAfghan security forces inspect the site of a suicide attack near a large mosque. -AFP

KABUL: A suicide bomber posing as a shepherd blew himself up near a mosque in Kabul on Friday killing at least one person, police said, as Muslims prepare to celebrate one of the holiest events in the Islamic calendar.

The attack in the north of the Afghan capital happened as worshippers were gathered inside Hussainia mosque, one of the biggest Shia mosques in the city, for Friday prayers.

"A suicide bomber who was grazing sheep has detonated himself outside the mosque," General Salim Almas, criminal investigative director of Kabul city, told AFP.

One person was killed and five wounded, Kabul deputy police chief Sadeq Muradi told AFP, but the health ministry put the death toll at two and 10 wounded.

160453_9040161_updates.jpgAfghan policeman inspect the site of a suicide attack. -AFP

Kabul's Emergency hospital tweeted that it had received 19 wounded including four children.

A photo posted on Twitter purportedly taken at the scene of the attack shows a man lying on the ground, covered in blood. A severed leg belonging to someone else is beside him.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but Taliban and Daesh militants have repeatedly targeted the minority Shia community in recent years.

A shopkeeper told AFP that the suicide bomber blew himself to bits after he was identified by suspicious civilian guards who had set up a checkpoint about 200 metres from the mosque.

Afghanistan has trained and armed more than 400 civilians to help protect Shia mosques during the holy month of Muharram.

The attacker had apparently wanted to reach the mosque while worshippers were still inside the prayer hall.

Salim Shaheen, who had been inside the mosque at the time of the blast told AFP there were multiple casualties.

"We were busy offering our Friday prayers when a big bang happened and we stopped prayers and rushed out," Shaheen told AFP.

Shaheen said "several people were killed and wounded". He and other bystanders took 15 people including six children to a hospital.

There had been fears insurgents would strike again as preparations are made to commemorate Ashura, which falls this weekend.

In recent years, the sacred day has been marred by deadly violence.


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